“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]’ “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’”-Luke 15:20-24
Watch carefully the father’s response to simply seeing his son from along way off. There is no indication of repentance from the young man at this point, no possible way of knowing what the young man could be returning home for, perhaps more money, yet it says:
“Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.”
Here is a truth for you, regardless of whether or not you agree with their lifestyle or their decisions. Regardless of whether they have repented for the pain that they have caused you or have yet to get right with God, we must still show them the same love and compassion that Jesus showed us when we were still steeped in sin. Sometimes the greatest thing we can do for a prodigal is come off the porch to meet them. If they have to crawl their way back to you hand and foot to be reconciled to you, then you have created a distance that Jesus, Himself, came and died on the cross to overcome.
More so, if we are continuing to carry so much unresolved hurt toward them that we won’t even come off the porch to meet them; how will we ever do the harder work of restoration. The son repented and immediately the father went to work restoring him:
“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.”-Luke 15:22
Each of those items have a profound meaning. The robe represents right standing, the ring represents the seal of authority and sonship, the sandals represent dignity.
How quickly should we begin the work of restoration in a prodigal’s life? For most of us there would be a mandatory time of proving themselves, before we would release anything back to them. Yet, the Father called for it immediately.
That could only be possible if he had been preparing himself for his son’s return. Only possible if he had done the work of getting his own heart and attitudes right to receive him, prior to seeing him coming. I think that is what I love most about this story. The father had no idea when the son would return, so he prepared himself to be ready at any moment. Perhaps the prodigals are failing to returning home, not because they haven’t hit rock bottom yet, but rather we haven’t. We haven’t reached the point that we are willing to do the hard work of forgiveness and overcoming bitterness to make way for them to return.
Why would God send a prodigal back home to people who are not ready to receive him? So often, we have prayer meetings crying out to God for the prodigals to come home, we pray that God would do whatever it takes, we pray that they would “come to their senses” and get out of the pig pen of sin and carnal living and come back to Christ. Yet, when is the last time we prayed that God would prepare our hearts to receive them. To search us and make sure that we haven’t created an obstacle in our own attitude and hearts to their return. Most of us fancy ourselves to be like the Father, but our attitudes and actions seem more like the older brother.
Should we pray for the prodigals to come home? Absolutely, and while we wait for their return, we need to be preparing ourselves to receive them.
Dayspring Community Church